The Science and Law of Food Testing

The scientific credentials of anyone working within food testing need to be underpinned with knowledge of the current and emerging regulations. This means keeping a breast of any changes to food quality standards. The all too recent horse meat scandal is a reminder of why food testing is needed with a global food supply chain.

Food testing labs fall into two key disciplines:

Food microbiology testing

FOOD LIVERS

Food chemistry testing
Both areas of food testing are about providing reliable, accurate results to make foods safer. Ensuring they meet the necessary statutory requirements and protect the consumer.

Food microbiology testing

Microbiology food testing is specifically for the identification of microorganisms which causing food spoilage and foodborne illness or where food producers’ use microorganisms to in food production, for example cheese making.

The most common applications of microbiology in food testing are:

• Shelf Life Determination – confirmation of the stability of a food product based upon storage conditions, time and temperature. The shelf life determination allows food producers to confidently set a Sell By Date or Use By Date.

• Water Testing – testing water is safe for human consumption within a food factory or manufacturing site. Because water a raw material and should be tested and analysed accordingly.

• Legionella Testing – testing water for the specific presence of Legionella bacteria, especially the most pathogenic (disease-causing) strain of Legionella bacteria is Legionella pneumophila group.

• Environmental Hygiene Monitoring – advice on how to set up food factory environmental control and monitoring plans to help meet the specifications required for good food factory environmental hygiene Helping reduce levels of contamination in finished products, leading to improved quality, fewer batch rejections and lower risk of product recall.

• Microbial Quality Determination – used to assess the microbiological quality of the end product, or an ingredient, or even the cleanliness of a food contact surface.

• Pathogen Determination/Identification – analysing and testing for food pathogens which cause illness in humans either by infections such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and pathogenic Ecoli or in toxications such as Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus or Clostridium botulinum.

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